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Sadiq Khan: Pride in London must address diversity concerns as condition for financial support

Exclusive: The Mayor of London tells Attitude that there must be "a refresh and a reset" at Pride in London following recent complaints and resignations.

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has told Attitude that Pride in London’s new leadership must address recent concerns about a lack of diversity within the organisation as a condition for City Hall to maintain its current level of financial support for the event.

Mr Khan, who is seeking re-election on 6 May, said that the Pride in London’s leadership body must seek “a refresh and a reset” after one of its most senior Black members, director of communications Rhammel Afflick, resigned earlier this month, claiming the group was a “hostile environment” for Black and ethnic minority volunteers.

Image: Greater London Authority

Afflick’s resignation was followed by the resignation of the entire Community Advisorty Board (CAB) the following day, citing similar concerns.

The controversy led to five senior Pride in London directors stepping down, with the organisation saying the “significant changes to its structure and leadership” were “to make necessary way for new voices and greater diversity”.

Now, Sadiq Khan – who on Thursday committed to helping London achieve a goal of zero HIV transmissions by 2030 – has told Attitude that continued support for Pride in London from City Hall will be dependent on new leadership addressing the “very serious” concerns over diversity.

Image: Greater London Authority

“What we can’t run away from are the very serious concerns raised by members of the committee, and concerns raised about a lack of inclusivity, but also within the LGBTQ+ community, prejudice leading to less favourable treatment”, said Mr Khan, 50.

“One of the things I’ve been quite clear about is [that] we’ve got to recognize [that] within the LGBTQ+ community there is diversity. Why wouldn’t there be? It’s not a one-size fits all approach.”

The Labour politician, who has served as Mayor of London since 2016 and as helped to lead the parade every year during his time in office, goes on: “What I think is important now is that there is a refresh and a reset to take on board the legitimate concerns raised by crucial people involved in the community.

“One of the things we can do from City Hall – and we are – is making sure that as a condition of us continuing to be the biggest funder [of Pride in London], as a condition of us continuing to provide huge help in kind, that the new team addresses some of the concerns raised about the old team, and some of the issues that led to people feeling so unhappy they felt they had no choice but to walk away from the Pride in London committee.”

Pride in London has faced repeated controversies relating to diversity and inclusion in recent years.

In 2015, the group came under fire for allowing right-wing party UKIP to march in the parade (a decision which was later reversed), and in 2018 the UK’s biggest LGBTQ charity, Stonewall, cut ties with event, citing a lack of inclusion for Black, Asian and ethnic minority members of the community.

Pride in London issued apologised following the resignation of Afflick earlier this month prior to five of its directors stepping down, saying: “We know we must do better to serve the communities we represent, especially those who are underrepresented, and we accept the seriousness of the issues raised with us.”

Pride in London is currently set to return on 11 September 2021, after 2020’s event was postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.